Tuesday, May 28, 2013

404 B

In State court we call it Williams Rule. In Federal court they call it 404B material- evidence of prior crimes, wrongs and acts. 

In State court a judge just sentenced a lawyer to two days jail for silently saying a curse word (the judge said she read his lips). 

In Federal court, for the second time, prosecutor Andrea Hoffman has been caught being less than candid with the court and with her discovery obligations. From John Pacenti's  DBR article on 5/24/2012:

A visibly frustrated Marcia Cooke called federal prosecutor Andrea Hoffman "disingenuous," in questioning her candor about when she knew "vetted units" of the Colombian national police were on the payroll of the Drug Enforcement Administration...

The issue arose in the Miami courtroom of U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke after defense attorneys raised questions about the role Colombian police played in the investigation of a cocaine trafficking ring that resulted in charges in Florida against 18 people. Defense attorneys started asking in April if Colombian police were paid for their assistance.
Assistant U.S. attorney Andrea Hoffman told Cooke's court she learned of the payments only after a jury was chosen Monday or on Tuesday.
Hoffman was apologetic and blamed miscommunication and a language barrier with Colombian police.

"This is why this does not make sense to me. This is all you do," Cooke replied. "Answer me this: Why does the government get a pass?"
The judge indicated she would reserve judgment on what sanctions, if any, she would impose, but her anger and frustration were palpable. She said Hoffman had breached her ethics as a prosecutor and apparently forgotten she represents the people of the United States...
The exchange with Cooke was not the first time Hoffman faced intense questioning by a Miami federal judge over her conduct in a criminal case. Hoffman was one of three prosecutors who faced sanctions for not telling a defense attorney that the government had its witnesses secretly tape his phone calls.
She was sanctioned in 2009 for her part in failing to inform accused pill mill Dr. Ali Shaygan that two prosecution witnesses had secretly taped phone calls to his defense team. Sanctions against three prosecutors and their office and a $601,000 penalty were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. But the substance of findings by U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold's were not in dispute... Cooke declined to dismiss the case or declare a mistrial but added, "The tug in that direction is quite strong."
She noted the government witnesses were forthright about the police officers being paid and there seemed to be nothing illegal or nefarious about any bonuses.
Cooke also said she understood the defense may believe the officer's objectivity has been tainted by the DEA payments and wondered aloud if an appellate court might overrule her.
She then turned to Hoffman and said she would reserve judgment on her behavior in the case.
Rumpole wonders:
What conduct is worse: silently cursing, or a prosecutor caught withholding evidence for the second time in her career? 
See You In Court. 


Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ America's Justice System has turned ass backwards. The gamesmanship and conduct in this building is reprehensible as well. Granted asa's have a job to do, but not all are guilty and all deserve a fair trial. Why be overzealous and leave room for reversable error. Really, now judges read lips, what next minds/clarvoyancy? Gtfoh

Anonymous said...

It always seems that prosecutors are given free passes for violating the procedures and rights of the accused by judges. Why is this? Even when the prosecuter has, in the past, shown "a pattern" of withholding information from the defense. Is it the win at all costs mentality or lack of legal expertise? A normal citizen would be charged with purjury for not telling the truth but an attorney has nothing done to them by a judge or Florida Bar if they "miscommunicate" to the court. The chumminess of ex-prosecutor judges and prosecutors is sickening. The judges are supposed to not only administrate a trial but to ensure the citizens of the government (including the accused), state or federal, are protected from abuses of the lawyers. It just doesn't happen that way anymore. Prosecutors are never held accountable for their illegal actions.

Anonymous said...

Prosecutor, the cursing doesn't affect the case.

Anonymous said...

Withholding evidence is inexcusable. Period.

Any prosecutor who finds it acceptable to withhold Brady or Giglio evidence doesn't understand the first thing about what it means to be a prosecutor and should be fired.

Prosecutors who lie to judges also should be canned.

I haven't read the transcript so I won't judge what happened here (God only knows judges can be wrong), but it sure as hell doesn't sound good.

This isn't a game; a prosecutor's decisions can destroy a person's life. Further, unscrupulous prosecutors destroy the reputations of their offices and undermine the community's respect for the rule of law. They needed to be identified and fired.

Even the kids know that "with great power, comes great responsibility."


PS---There's good and bad in every profession. I continue to believe that most prosecutors (like most judges, defense attorneys, copes, etc.) are honest people. I hate seeing the entire (who are doing a public service for far less money than they can earn in the private sector)) hammered because of a few assholes.

PS2---UAM, Federal prosecutors are AUSA's, not ASA's.

D S said...

Kudos to Carlos, BHB & Jay

May 26 , 2013 Editorial:
Justice for poor affirmed

The Florida Supreme Court embraced justice for all Floridians on Thursday when it reaffirmed the right of the poor to adequate legal counsel. The court ruled that trial courts can stop assigning public defenders to new cases when the Legislature has provided so little money that the result is overwhelming case loads. The ruling, 5-2, is a triumph of reality over the wishful thinking of legislative leadership. At some point, the cost of justice denied is more than any dollars and cents the Legislature wants to save.


Anonymous said...




and our fav


Anonymous said...

No court today. Gonna keep calm and chive on...

Anonymous said...

Second time this AUSA has been involved in discovery violations and then not being completely candid with the court . . . Time to show her the door!

Anonymous said...

she did nothing wrong in the markus situation since the usa attorney created a chinese wall. karen gilbert was the guilty party and should have reported the situation to the court.

here it is different....

Anonymous said...

The use of the phrase "Chinese wall" is racist. Please use "cone of silence."

the trialmaster said...

as any of us who practice in federal court, 404b is much broader than Williams Rule evidence which the state must show the same pattern or similar conduct, not just "prior bad acts".

Anonymous said...


I stated exactly what I intended. Why do you obsessively feel the need to want to correct what I state? Do you have a complex issue? You need to check that. Good day.

Anonymous said...

How is the phrase "Chinese Wall" racist? I assume that it refers to the Great Wall of China, which was a feat of engineering way ahead of its time and something that Chinese people are justifiably very proud of.

Anonymous said...

Chinese Wall, you moron, is not racist. It relates to that great big wall they built in China. Sorry, I menat that great big wall they built in "Cone Of Silence."

Anonymous said...

On another note who's paying attention to the Motions in Liminie regarding the upcoming Zimmerman trial. It's beyond nasty.

Shows that element no one wants to discuss or admit it present.

D S said...

Legal Music

The link to RIC ZWEIG newest Video for his new song


Anonymous said...

Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. v.Superior Court 200 Cal.App.3d 272, 293-294, 245 Cal.Rptr. 873, 887-888 (1988) (Low, Presiding Justice, concurring), wrote:

I concur in the opinion of Justice Haning, but write separately to comment on the
apparently widespread use of the term "Chinese Wall" to describe the type of
screening mechanism discussed in this case. While our opinion uses the term
"screen," both the parties and the trial court used the term "Chinese Wall,"which
seems to have become a term of art. I write to express my profound objection to the
use of this phrase in this context.

Read the opinion and get enlightened.

Simon Bennet Robbins said...

Simon Bennett Robbins Oppenheim & Taft now accepting all referrals from Miami law firms and paying the largest referral fees allowed by law and the Bars. Please visit our website now for partner contact information.

Rumpole said...

For those of you who got punked, the law firm above is mentioned in a Seinfeld episode. It does not exist but some enterprising soul created a whole website for the firm- based on a mention in the Seinfeld episode "The stakeout".
When I saw the comment I checked it out, googled the name and saw the joke.

Anonymous said...

The fake law firm site is better than mine which I paid someone an awful lot for. Somebody has too much time on their hands. And I looked through to see if they were doing it to raise money, etc and nothing on site gives it away that it's not a real firm other than 555 phone number.

Paul Simon said...

They got a wall in China
It’s a thousand miles long
To keep out the foreigners
They made it strong.